Augustine (Part 1)

Moving forward from St. Paul, we can talk about another founding father of Christianity, Augustine. He lived around 330 C.E. and, although very influential later in his life, was initially a “partier,” as modern lexicon would have it. This lifestyle of Augustine’s encompassed gambling, drinking, and womanizing for much of his time as a young adult. Following this phase of his, however, Augustine underwent a conversation and turned to Christianity, of which he became a philosophizer. Thus, Augustine began to write and speak about it a lot, and it was discovered that he had many sexual issues in his past.

Originally, when Augustine was drinking and gambling a lot, he was also acting out in a sexual manner. Upon becoming a Christian, he quit acting out sexually and spread the belief that out of the seven deadly sins, lust was the most dangerous. In addition to having issues about women and sexuality, Augustine was homophobic and spread his homophobic beliefs around as well.

Due to Augustine and St. Paul’s influence at the time, men like them were shaping society such that sexuality was demonized and seen as a bad thing. Moreover, the myth of Adam and Eve was propagating the idea that female sexuality should be demonized since it said that Eve’s sexuality led to the fall of humankind. St. Paul and Augustine, then, continued to promote the idea that lust and sex are bad, and that one should feel shame for wanting to enjoy them. Things like these worked in conjunction to make society feel shame for its sexuality, mostly as it relates to women and LGBT people. This sense of sense within the society was passed down through Christianity, a religion that served as a moral compass for many people.

The Christian church was influential in telling people what to be ashamed of, and this sense of shame entered people’s psyches and continues to be felt today. So, in modern day America the society is incredibly confused about its sexuality; women, although objectified, are also expected to control their sexuality, and LGBT people are demonized. This demonization and phobia of LGBT people stems in part from the stereotype that LGB people are merely focused on sex, which is the only component to be found in their relationships. This is untrue, for these relationships include emotional, physical, and sacred components that should be taken into account.

It can be seen, then, that going back to Augustine and Christianity helps us see how the seed of shame was planted in today’s culture and how it continued to be propagated.